NSF Standards and Life Cycle Analysis
As a result of proprietary formulations of interior finish products, it is difficult to complete cost effective life cycle analysis for the interior fit-outs of buildings.
Therefore the certification of products has become another way to third party assess products, such as carpet, wallcovering, and resilient flooring to establish compliance to sustainable criteria. The latest in the series of standards developed by NSF includes NSF/ANSI 336: Sustainability Assessment for Commercial Furnishings Fabric, which addresses environmental, economic, and social aspects of furnishing fabric products, including woven, non-woven, bonded and knitted fabrics used for upholstery for furniture, vertical treatments; such as window treatments and panel systems, and decorative top of bed applications (bedspreads).
These products are commonly used in healthcare, hospitality, retail and office settings. Similar to building rating systems that are divided into specific categories; i.e. energy, water, materials & resources, emissions and pollutant controls, indoor environment, and environmental management systems; NSF/ANSI 336 criteria is divided into categories including fiber sourcing, safety of materials, water and energy conservation, water quality, social accountability, air quality and recycling practices in manufacturing and end of use. The certification includes a weighted point systems application to each category.
Based upon the number of achievable points, certifications available are Compliant, Silver, Gold, or Platinum level. Manufacturers certified by NSF are authorized to use the NSF Sustainability Certified Mark on their products and in their advertising.
The utilization of NSF standards, as an example of one type of third party certification, provides opportunities for vinyl manufacturers to promote their sustainable practices and information regarding their products. The evaluation of multiple attribute standards versus single product attribute provides a more comprehensive approach to selection of interior finishes.
For additional information go to www.nsf.org, and for a full listing of NSF standards related to third party certification of interior products go to www.achievegreen.net.